Top performing B2B sales organizations rarely employ just one lead generation tactic. According to recent research, B2B companies are using multiple lead generation tactics including, email marketing, search engine optimization, teleprospecting, inbound marketing, direct mail and trade shows. Why then are so many consultants and companies out there actively promoting inbound marketing as the dominant lead generation strategy of our time?
Inbound marketing is based on developing high quality content that attracts qualified buyers, who are in the early stages of the sales cycle. “Build it and they will come.” But can you build enough content and who will come? The same inbound marketing experts will tell you that it might take 50 blogs to impact your website visits. Despite their best intentions, many B2B companies are not able to generate the frequent high-quality content necessary to fuel an inbound marketing lead generation program.
Does your firm have the capacity and expertise to develop targeted content for different buyer personas at different stages of the sales funnel? Remember that high-quality persuasive content is not your corporate brochure or a sales pitch, thinly disguised as a white paper. According to the research study, “Connecting the Dots between Content and Sales”, by IDG Enterprise Research, content quality and integrity is very important to decision-makers. They discovered that 42% of IT Decision-Makers found it extremely or very challenging to find trusted information. Their main concern was how vendor bias would impact the information quality.
Lead Quality Drives Increased Revenue
B2B companies know that lead quality is just as important if not more important than the quantity of leads generated. There is an active debate about the quality difference between leads from inbound versus outbound marketing. Let’s take a closer look at the quality of leads produced by these lead generation tactics and how this impacts your ability to further develop these prospects into customers.
Most leads from inbound marketing provide basic demographic information on forms to download or access content. There is a direct relationship between requesting more detailed information and declining form conversions. The more information you request, the fewer leads that will download your content. So your “qualified inbound lead” may consist of a person’s first and last name, the company or organization, an email address and maybe the size of the company. And who knows if this information is accurate. A healthcare company recently received a white paper download from Dr. Kildare at the MASH Hospital Unit.
Also, if you have defined your target to be C-Level executives in your industry, are they likely to search the web for solutions themselves? Many executives will delegate this responsibility to lower level people within their organization. Your “qualified” inbound marketing lead may actually be an administrative assistant or lower level executive with only limited decision-making or influencing ability.
Compare this to a qualified lead from a professional telepropsecting company. The prospect has been personally engaged by a highly trained, experienced salesperson who has helped identify a pain point, possible solutions and qualified the prospect by numerous pre-determined information points. Of these two examples of qualified leads, which one will your company be able to more quickly and efficiently convert to a customer?
We define the attributes of a truly qualified lead as:
- SIC or NAICS code
- Firmographics (revenue, #employees, # of locations)
- Decision makers and influencers identified
- Environment documented
- Decision-maker engaged
- Business pain(s) uncovered/validated
- Decision-making process and timeframe documented
- Budget allocated or process for budgeting documented
- Competitive landscape documented
- Sense of urgency or compelling event exists
A developed quality lead sets the stage for relationship selling, lead nurturing and prospect development. The more successful your prospect development program—the more successful you will be at driving revenue. One firm that benefited from an effective outbound prospect development program was Joulex. An Atlanta-based software company, Joulex, increased new business sales opportunities in their pipeline by more than $2 million dollars from qualified leads generated by an outbound prospecting program.
Another benefit of outbound marketing prospect development is reaching prospects earlier in the sales cycle. Some companies may not even be aware of their pain proposition or whether a solution exists or not. Inbound marketing only identifies prospects that are actively searching for a solution. Your outbound prospect development program may identify prospects before they even start their buying research. Why not be the first company to offer a solution and get a huge jump on your competition?
Why wait for qualified leads to come to you? Adding outbound prospect development to your lead generation mix allows you to aggressively and actively beat your lead generation and sales forecasts.